Hope amid sad­ness for res­i­dents

Road will dis­lodge some from homes


Stand­ing out­side the Tsuu T’ina home he’s lived in for more than two decades, Hal Ea­gle­tail rem­i­nisced about his prop­erty.

As his son played nearby, the father of seven and grand­fa­ther of six spoke of the war­rior camps for youth he’s hosted on the land, the cer­e­monies that have taken place at his home, and the wild berries and veg­eta­bles he’s picked in the woods nearby.

Ea­gle­tail and his fam­ily will be forced to re­lo­cate to make way for the south­west ring road.

The deal di­rectly im­pacts sev­eral homes and busi­nesses, in­clud­ing the Tsuu T’ina Gas Stop, Buf­falo Run Golf Course and the Sarcee Seven Chiefs Sport­splex.

De­spite hav­ing to re­lo­cate, Ea­gle­tail sup­ports the ring road and the brighter fu­ture he’s hope­ful it will bring to the re­serve.

“We are very at­tached, def­i­nitely, but that’s the sac­ri­fice that we were will­ing to make, our fam­ily, for the bet­ter­ment of our fu­ture,” Ea­gle­tail said on Fri­day.

Ea­gle­tail is one of the 644 band mem­bers who voted on Thurs­day to sup­port the mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar pro­posal that will fi­nally see a com­pleted ring road.

Not ev­ery­one is cel­e­brat­ing the his­toric de­ci­sion.

“Night­mares do come true, I guess,” Cory Car­di­nal said Fri­day, de­scrib­ing the mood among op­posed band mem­bers as one of anger, sad­ness and be­trayal.

Land that’s been a part of his fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions, and his mom’s home, will be bull- dozed be­cause of the project, Car­di­nal said.

“To me, that was my home­land. If you’re French, you can al­ways go back to France. If you’re Ger­man, there’s al­ways Ger­many ... but there’s nowhere left for me to go back to,” he said.

Chico Noel also ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment in the vote, stat­ing he be­lieves band mem­bers chose money over im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal land, and placed the blame on the city.

“Cal­gary has been tak­ing from the start of time and now they want this. How much more are they go­ing to take? How much more do they want?” he said.

When Noel told his 13-yearold daugh­ter that the project he’s come to re­fer to as a ring­worm — be­cause he says it’s “in­fect­ing” his na­tion — was ap­proved, she be­gan to cry.

“That high­way is go­ing to be right in my front yard,” he said.

At a press con­fer­ence on Fri­day, Chief Roy Whit­ney said the process has been dif­fi­cult for the na­tion and he “and all Tsuu T’ina” un­der­stand why 280 peo­ple voted against the deal.

“Our el­ders de­cided last week that no mat­ter the out­come of (Thurs­day’s) vote, our com­mu­nity had to be­gin to heal and re­cover from this dif­fi­cult de­bate,” he said.

Whit­ney said the na­tion will feast and pray with their el­ders on Sun­day, and be­gin a process of heal­ing.

A Tsuu T’ina spokesper­son, rather than Whit­ney, an­swered ques­tions af­ter Fri­day’s press con­fer­ence be­cause Whit­ney said he needed time to be with the com­mu­nity.

In ad­di­tion to homes and busi­nesses, the project will af- fect burial grounds on Tsuu T’ina land and band spokesper­son Peter Many­wounds said coun­cil will work with cit­i­zens to move for­ward on that is­sue.

“The chal­lenge that chief and coun­cil and the com­mu­nity face now is to work with those fam­i­lies and those peo­ple and those tra­di­tional, cul­tural mat­ters and man­age them in a way that’s to­tally sen­si­tive to all those is­sues that meet the needs of those peo­ple but still al­low the project to go ahead,” he said.

Car­di­nal said it’s up­set­ting the burial grounds will be af­fected and he hopes they’re moved in an ap­pro­pri­ate way.

“They were laid there to rest in peace, they weren’t ex­pect- ing to be bull­dozed over or picked up and moved,” he said.

Once burial grounds are moved, houses are bull­dozed and the free­way is built, Ea­gle­tail is hope­ful the road will be an op­por­tu­nity for the Tsuu T’ina to thrive through com­mer­cial devel­op­ment and growth.

“It’s go­ing to give us fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity,” he said.

Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi said he’s hope­ful the project will strengthen the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Cal­gary and the Tsuu T’ina Na­tion.

“I’m re­ally hope­ful, as Chief Whit­ney is, that this road will not serve as a wall, but it will ac­tu­ally serve as the abil­ity for us to think of our com­mu­ni­ties as in­ter­twined more than we have in the past,” he said.

When it is fin­ished, the road will not be called Stoney Trail, ac­cord­ing to Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Ric McIver.

Ea­gle­tail said some band mem­bers were both­ered by the Stoney Trail name and re­quested the south­west por­tion of the free­way that will go through the Tsuu T’ina Na­tion be named some­thing dif­fer­ent. “We’re not Stoney. The Stoney Trail was just the horse trail that the Stoneys used to come into Cal­gary,” he said.

McIver said the deal had to be good for all par­ties and the prov­ince was OK with Tsuu T’ina ask­ing for in­put into the road’s new name.

While it’s un­clear what the new road will be named, Ea­gle­tail said he hopes the name re­flects the new un­der­stand­ings and re­la­tion­ships that will re­sult be­tween the city, prov­ince, and the na­tion now that a deal has fi­nally been reached.

“To name the road the friend­ship road, or some­thing like that. The co-op­er­a­tion road,” he said.

Stu­art Gradon/cal­gary Her­ald

Tsuu T’ina res­i­dent Hal Ea­gle­tail, with his daugh­ter Chero­kee and son Ansen, will be forced to leave his prop­erty to make way for the ring road, “but that’s the sac­ri­fice that we were will­ing to make, our fam­ily, for the bet­ter­ment of our fu­ture,” said...

Gavin Young/cal­gary Her­ald

Al­berta Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Ric McIver com­ments on the new ring road agree­ment with the Tsuu T’ina Na­tion Fri­day.

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